The Inferno’s nine-game winning streak came to an end two weekends ago in Alberta, after dropping the first game of the weekend series to the Clarkson Cup Champion Markham Thunder. The teams rematched last weekend, as the Ladies in Red from Calgary headed to Ontario to start another streak and try to maintain their hold in first place in the CWHL. Let’s take a look back at the weekend’s action!
Game 1- CGY 3, MRK 1
The Thunder were out for revenge early on their home turf at Thornhill Community Centre! On a cross checking penalty to the Inferno’s Brianne Jenner only 34 seconds into the game, Markham’s Jess Jones opened the scoring on their powerplay advantage one minute and eleven seconds later. The lead wouldn’t last long for the home side, as less than five minutes later Jenner would redeem herself, tying the game on a marker assisted by Rebecca Leslie and Kelty Apperson. Ten and a half minutes later in the first period, Leslie would find Jenner again for another goal (secondary assist to Brigette Lacquette) and Calgary took the 2-1 lead. The Thunder wouldn’t muster a comeback, and Zoe Hickel would notch the insurance marker for the visitors at 15:15 of the final stanza for the win. Jenner would collect first star honours on the evening for her two goal showing and notching the game winner.
Game 2- CGY 7, MRK 2
The Sunday contest started with some eb and flow hockey, with Markham again trying to get after Calgary early. Jenna McParland got the homeside on the board first at 3:31, but Rebecca Leslie would respond unassisted at 8:24 for the Inferno. The Thunder would break the 1-1 tie late in the first, as Victoria Bach would make it 2-1 with just over a minute and a half remaining. Not to be outdone in the dying moments, Inferno Captain Rebecca Johnston would knot things up again with only 47 seconds left in the first frame (assists to Brianna Decker and Zoe Hickel). Riding the momentum from the late tie, Calgary turned on the jets and didn’t look back. Decker, Leslie and Jenner would light the lamp each in the 2nd period, while Gosling and Decker would add a pair in the 3rd for a 7-2 runaway final. Although Markham would end up outshooting the Inferno 33-30 in this one, Calgary had goalie Alex Rigsby to thank for shutting things down with 31 saves in her eighth straight start.
It was a big weekend offensively for the Inferno, who after dropping their previous win streak have now collected three straight wins in a row after the single loss in between. With another three points, Captain Rebecca Johnston continues to lead the team in scoring, and sits at 3rd in league scoring for the fourth consecutive weekend. She has also officially taken over the franchise lead in points, surpassing Brittany Esposito who retired from the squad this offseason.
Up until last weekend, Johnston was the only Calgary player to have cracked the top ten in CWHL scoring. However, another balanced outburst of a weekend now sees four more Inferno skaters join the fray. They now have the most skaters in the top ten race of all Canadian Women’s Hockey League teams. Jenner, Decker, Leslie, and Hickel now round out the race all even at 15 points a piece. The team remains the least penalized squad in the league with 84 PIMs, so the combo of high scoring and low man-disadvantages has been a huge help.
The Inferno remain in first place through 14 games!
News & Notes:
-It was announced on December 6th by the Inferno that new Head Coach Shannon Miller would be stepping down from her duties. This was her first season with the team, and she relinquishes the reigns after only 12 games despite the fact the team remains in first place. During her time in US College Hockey, Miller reigned in eleven Frozen Four Tournament Wins, and five NCAA Division 1 national championships. She was also the fastest head coach in NCAA Division 1 history to reach the 250 and 300th win plateaus. Her signing was considered by many to be a huge “ win now” statement, so it will be a shame to see Coach Miller step down. We here at Matchsticks & Gasoline wish Coach all the best in her future endeavors.
Assistant coaches Ryan Hilderman, Becky McGee and Mandi Duhamel are still with the team. Hilderman and Duhamel were behind the bench for last weekend’s series and will remain there indefinitely pending a new hiring, unless the pair remains coaching or the foreseeable future.
-The Inferno have had six more players named to the CWHL All-Star Game roster, making nine totals players headed in all. Their nine roster members named to the game is the most of any team in the CWHL. In addition to the previous additions of Rebecca Johnston, Blayre Turnbull and Alex Rigsby, the team will now also send forwards Brianna Decker, Zoe Hickel, and Brianne Jenner, as well defensemen Kacey Bellamy, Halli Kryzaniak, and Brigette Lacquette. The All- Star Game goes January 20th, 2019 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario.
The CWHL Christmas break is coming next weekend, so Saturday and Sunday’s games will be the Inferno’s last before the time off for the holidays. The Toronto Furies are headed out west December 15 for another of the Inferno’s “home away from home” games at the Gary W. Harris Canada Winter Games Centre in Red Deer, Alberta. They’ll be home again in Calgary for the Sunday the 16th game at WinSport’s Joan Snyder Arena. They’ll then head back to Markham in the new yearfor another rematch series with the Thunder on January 5th and 6th. Keep it locked to Matchsticks & Gasoline to see how our Ladies In Red fare!